At the beginning of the decade, the global financial and economic situation was characterised by unstable financial flows, government debt crises, and volatile raw material and foodstuff prices. Furthermore, the consequences of climate change were jeopardising the progress made in the fight against poverty. Increased domestic inequality in many countries caused high political and social costs.

In the dispatch presented to Parliament in the autumn of 2010, the Federal Council proposed to raise the means allocated to official development aid to 0.5 percent of GNI. The topics energy, climate and environment received more attention and financial resources. Additionally, Switzerland decided to harmonise the financial decisions on the various framework credits for development cooperation with the legislative period and to combine them in a single dispatch.

There are ways in which resources can be mobilised through the smart use of development co-operation to help states reduce socio-economic inequalities, finance policies that enable more people to benefit from inclusive economic growth, and provide public services such as education.

Jon Lomøy
Former Director of the OECD Development Cooperation Directorate

As a response to the above-mentioned politico-economic situation, SECO supports the integration of its partner countries into the global economy and reinforces their competitiveness. This allows for the mobilisation of domestic resources through trade revenue and foreign direct investment, which in turn can be used to finance sustainable development. SECO also promotes innovation and entrepreneurship, for example through the Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets (SIFEM), the Swiss Confederation’s development finance institution. After the Arab spring uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, the Federal Council adopted a new strategy for North Africa in March 2011. Tunisia became SECO’s eighth priority country.

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

2015 was marked by three international conferences: the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, the UN Sustainable Development Summit, and the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP 21). In September, the international community passed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, uniting the three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic, ecological – for the first time. The international community [or It] acknowledged that the fight against extreme poverty could only be successful if environmental aspects, equal opportunities and human rights are taken into account and sights set on sustainable peace and an inclusive society.

Switzerland played an important role in the elaboration of the 2030 Agenda. The latter was also the guiding principle for the dispatch on the framework credit 2017-2020. SECO’s contributions to facilitating sustainable, inclusive growth in its partner countries focused on four objectives: effective public institutions and services, more and better jobs, enhanced trade and improved competitiveness, as well as a climate-resilient economy with little emission. Less poverty and inequalities create more local perspectives and decrease migratory pressures. Other SECO measures influence global risks such as economic and financial crises, as well as climate change.

The coronavirus crisis hits developing countries hard

2020 saw the world turned upside down by COVID-19. The impact of the global pandemic hit developing countries particularly hard.

Women with masks keep their distance at the market where they sell their vegetables.
SECO is supporting the work of Max Havelaar and the Fairtrade relief and resilience funds during the Covid-19 crisis. These help farming families in the South to weather crises like the one we are currently experiencing.

SECO is dedicating its resources, expertise, tools and partnerships to targeted, fixed-term economic policy support measures. For instance, it is supporting developing countries in overcoming the consequences of the pandemic and reintegrating themselves into global value chains. Switzerland’s international cooperation is also helping countries to draw lessons from the crisis and become more resilient. With the new international cooperation strategy 2021-2024 adopted by the Swiss Federal Council in February 2020, Switzerland will remain well positioned to address global challenges and crises while at the same time keeping an overview of long-term structural challenges.

The multilateral development banks and the organisations of the UN adopted emergency measures. In the short term, the objective is to contain the effects of the pandemic. In the long term, they will support poorer countries in stabilising their economies and reducing their vulnerability to shocks.  


Last modification 22.12.2020

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